Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev held extremist views while in Russia last year, according to The New York Times, citing an Islamist source there.
Zaur Zakaryayev of the pro-Salafi organization Union of the Just told the Times on Thursday Tsarnaev "already had jihad views when he came."
"I think because he was Chechen, he was rooting for his homeland,” 29-year-old Zakaryayev told the Times from Kizlyar, a town that Tsarnaev visited during his six-month stint in Russia last year.
“When he got here he was surprised at the conditions," Zakaryayev said. "I think he expected to find a full-fledged war, that one people was fighting with another.”
Tsarnaev was killed during a manhunt following blasts at the Boston marathon last month, which left several people dead and shook the nation. Tsarnaev was buried on Thursday.
According to BBC, the suspect's cousin, also a local Islamist leader, tried to talk Tsarnaev out of militancy. Russian forces have been questioning Magomed Kartashov about the Tsarnaev brothers, both of whom are suspected of orchestrating the Boston attack. The younger Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar, is in US custody.
Zakaryayev confirmed this to the Times, saying: “Magomed explained to him at length that violent methods are not right."
US officials are under close scrutiny over the Tsarnaev brothers' ability to enter the United States given reported warnings from Russian authorities.